8 Tenant Screening Red Flags for Property Managers

Property Managers

One of the most challenging parts of renting out a property is deciding who to choose as a tenant. We all want tenants who are clean, punctual, and who treat our property like it was their own. But it can be hard to find that person based just on an application and meeting them for a few minutes during the property tour.

Luckily, there are some solid red flags you can look out for that will help you weed out the troublesome tenants. Read on to learn what property managers to look for during the tenant screening process so you get the best renter for your property.

Negative Experiences with a Previous Property Managers

One of the biggest red flags you should look out for when trying to find good tenants is a negative experience with a previous landlord. Of course, there are two sides to every story, and it’s possible your prospective tenant wound up with one of the rare bad apples in terms of propProperty Managererty managers. But it’s much more likely that they were the source of at least some of the trouble and that those problems will continue into your relationship with them. 

Obviously, previous evictions should be a serious mark against any previous tenant unless they can show a good reason why it wasn’t their fault. And while negative landlord references can be a red flag, you should also double-check ultra-positive landlord references. Your potential tenant may have enlisted a friend to pretend to be a previous landlord and write them a glowing letter of recommendation. 

Showing Up with a Crowd in Tow

While most people prefer to bring at least one other person with them apartment hunting, be wary of people who show up with a crowd. If nothing else, this can make it hard for you to figure out who’s actually going to be living in the apartment. But it can also indicate that your potential tenant either isn’t independent or has a potentially troublesome circle of friends or family.

When a potential tenant shows up with a crowd in tow, ask who will actually be signing the lease. This will help you direct questions and discussions toward the actual tenant. You can also start to get a sense for if this potential tenant will have non-renters crashing at their place four or five nights a week or more.

Showing Up Late

As with any interview, showing up late is never a good sign for the quality of your potential tenant. You want a tenant who’s excited to rent your property and eager to prove to you that they’ll be a good renter. And, of course, punctuality will be important when it comes to paying rent and moving out on time.

If your potential tenant shows up late for your appointment, pay close attention to how they react to the situation. If they seem stressed, apologize for their tardiness, and have a good reason (even if it’s relatively vague) for being late, proceed with a cautious, but open, mind. If they seem unbothered by being late, you may want to go ahead and cross this person off your list.

Hard to Communicate With

In many ways, the application, interview, and tour process are a glimpse into what you can expect renting to this tenant to be like. You want to make sure your tenants are easy to reach when questions or problems come up with the property. This will be especially important when the tenant is moving out of your property. 

Pay attention to how easy it is to communicate with your applicants during the screening process. Do they respond to your messages promptly and with reasonable answers? If they take forever to respond or communicating with them gives you a headache, you may want to look for another tenant.

Rushing to Move In 

Another red flag to watch out for is an applicant who seems desperate to move into your property as soon as possible. Of course, they may have a perfectly legitimate reason for moving quickly – maybe they just moved to town for a new job or they’re trying to escape an abusive situation. But it may be an indication that they’re bad tenants skipping out on a previous landlord or similar.

Pay close attention to applicants who are asking to move in within a week or two. Don’t write them off completely, but take stock of the rest of the impression they give off, and look for other red or green flags. If they have a history of evictions, their reference letters are a little too good to be true, and they’re hard to communicate with, put them at the bottom of your list.

Lying on the Application

Of course, lying on the rental application is a major red flag for any tenant, and some lies are easy to spot. We’ve already discussed fake landlord recommendations, but you may run into a few other common lies from applicants. It’s a good idea to start by double-checking their references and listed employer to make sure they’re legitimate.

When the potential applicant shows up for their tour, pay attention to whether they have animal hair on their clothes. If they claimed not to have a pet on their application, ask if they live with a friend or family member who has an animal. If they say no, it could be a sign that they’re lying about other things, too.

Learn More About Tenant Screening

The tenant screening process can be tricky as you try to weed out the bad apples from the good people who are looking for a fresh start. In general, keep an eye out for people who seem dishonest, apathetic, or hard to communicate with. Previous evictions are, of course, a bad sign, and lying on the application doesn’t bode well for the future.

If you’d like to learn more about tenant screening, check out the rest of our site at RentSafe. We are the tenant screening platform that gets vacancies filled faster. Check out our solutions for property managers today and start screening tenants the easy way.

Devin Henry
Devin Henry
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